Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 1/14/13
Peyton Manning is the greatest quarterback to ever play the game of football…in the regular season.Should there ever be cause to construct a Mount Rushmore of NFL quarterbacks, Joe Montana and John Elway would unquestionably get their portraits etched into the side of the mountain.With two spots left to fill, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning would be the likely duo to grace the remaining edifice space on Mount Passmore, but is Peyton Manning’s worthy inclusion in this group starting to come under question?After another early playoff exit, during which Manning coughed the ball up three times en route to a 38-35, double overtime defeat at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens, many are now wondering about Peyton Manning’s place among the all-time greats. How will his legacy ultimately be defined?Being the only four-time MVP in NFL history should be enough to get your mug on football’s Everest, but where the other top QBs are unquestioned winners, Peyton Manning has had some trouble finding the same success in the postseason that he has enjoyed under the much dimmer lights of the NFL’s regular season docket.Tom Brady, Joe Montana and John Elway are all in the top 4 in terms of all-time number of playoff victories. Tom Brady set the all-time mark with his 17th playoff victory in the New England Patriots’ 41-28 drubbing of the Houston Texans on Sunday.Abdicating his throne to Brady is Joe Montana, who now sits in the No. 2 spot with 16 wins. John Elway wasn’t far behind, tallying 14 late-season triumphs during his days in Denver. Peyton Manning, on the other hand, has only nine playoff victories, and what may be worse for his Mount Passmore resume is that the eldest Manning actually has a losing record in the postseason (9-11).Quarterback Playoff RecordsTom Brady – 17-6 (3 Super Bowls)Joe Montana – 16-7 (4 Super Bowls)Terry Bradshaw – 14-5 (4 Super Bowls)John Elway – 14-7 (2 Super Bowls)Brett Favre – 13-11 (1 Super Bowl)Troy Aikman – 11-4 (3 Super Bowls)Roger Staubach – 11-6 (2 Super Bowls)Ben Roethlisberger – 10-4 (2 Super Bowls)Bart Star – 9-1 (2 Super Bowls; 5 NFL Championships)Kurt Warner – 9-4 (1 Super Bowl)Donovan McNabb – 9-7 (0 Super Bowls; 1 Appearance)Jim Kelley – 9-8 (0 Super Bowls; 4 Appearances)Peyton Manning – 9-11 (1 Super Bowl)Whether fair or foul, quarterbacks are ultimately judged by their wins, not their statistics. Dan Marino has all the requisite numbers to prove his gun-slinging status against anyone, but the former Isotoner spokes model never got it done when it mattered most.Manning did manage to squeak out a Super Bowl victory against the Rex Grossman-led Chicago Bears in 2006 – although throwing one touchdown while turning the ball over twice did not exactly make for a historic, career defining moment for Manning in the big game.There are a lot of quarterbacks with one ring, but when talking about the all-time greats, multiples are always the benchmark. Peyton Manning even finds himself in the embarrassing position of not even having the most Super Bowl victories in his own family (Eli Manning 2x Super Bowl Winner).The 2012 season had to be devastating for Manning as the Denver Broncos went into the playoffs with a first-round bye and home field advantage after winning their last 11 regular season games. Still, Manning was unable to do something that even Tim Tebow found a way to produce for the Denver Broncos: win a home playoff game.For Peyton Manning, another question suddenly looms large, and that is whether or not Peyton can win a playoff game without there being ideal weather conditions. Thanks to this latest defeat, Manning is now 0-4 in games where the temperature is less than 40 degrees.Playing for the Denver Broncos, this anomaly does not exactly instill a lot of confidence for his future success in the Mile High City. In these games, Manning has thrown only four touchdowns while tossing 14 interceptions. Following a late-season legend like John Elway, Manning has left himself open to even more legacy questions by comparison.There is no debating that Peyton Manning is a tremendous quarterback, and one of the all-time greats. What is debatable is just where on that list his name should be penciled. Brett Favre has 13 playoff victories, a Super Bowl ring and the stats to back them up. Terry Bradshaw has four titles and 14 playoff W’s.Even Ben Roethlisberger has managed 10 postseason wins on his way to two different Super Bowl crowns. So, with Aaron Rodgers having already tied Manning’s number of Super Bowl wins, and putting himself on a career trajectory that could rival any player, just how secure is Peyton Manning’s legacy as one of the very pinnacle of NFL quarterbacks?How does Football Nation judge Peyton Manning’s career? Should his name be synonymous with the likes of Joe Montana, Tom Brady and John Elway, or has his post-season failures been enough to demote him into the second class of NFL quarterbacks? Does Peyton Manning need to win another Super Bowl to justify his place in NFL history? 
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